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In honour of Juan Jose Ochoa

We are deeply saddened to share the news that one of our Skoll Scholars, Juan Jose Ochoa, passed away recently following a prolonged illness.

A dear classmate, friend, husband, father and inspiring social entrepreneur, Juanjo was among our first Skoll Scholars, completing his Oxford MBA in 2006. He dedicated his career to building a leading microfinance company and improving access to energy, water and communications across rural Argentina and Latin America.

Juanjo was a much-loved and respected part of the global Skoll Scholar community. His energy, passion and generosity left a lasting impression on all those who knew him.  Juanjo is best remembered below through the words of some of his fellow Scholar cohort and classmates.

Our love and prayers are with Juan’s family. He will be greatly missed

The Skoll Centre Team

It is hard to capture in a few lines what a special person Juan Jose was. One of the strongest memories I have from when we first met in 2005, is the kindness of his smile, something I will forever treasure. Throughout our year at Oxford Saïd, I saw in Juanjo a rare combination of compassion and pragmatism; a deep sense of empathy and the eloquence to communicate and act upon it. My thoughts are with Maria and their children. Te queremos mucho, Juanjo.


Susana Frazao Pinheiro

Juanjo shall never be just another fading memory of a social pioneer in a fast-changing world.  Alas, this is too simple a description for such a Master of compassion the likes of JuanJo.  He taught us to strive to transcend the limits of singular perspective and to trust in the grace of deep human connection.  His light is constant, is pure and is forever illuminating brightly inside each of us. Our steps are his steps. Hasta pronto hermano.


Keely Stevenson

Juanjo’s passion, and at the heart of his work over the past years, was to bring light to the very rural communities in Argentina. He also shared his light of purity of spirit, intention and actions with each of us for which we are ever grateful.


Richard Webb

Juanjo and I had many things in common, therefore, we became close friends and fellow mentors. He was a very generous human being with qualities that are hard to find: committed to his family, devoted towards improving people’s lives, an optimist and believer in human nature and a deeply spiritual soul whose words and amazing capacity to listen would brighten us all who were so lucky to have crossed paths with him.  While his life was short; his legacy was profound and will keep pushing many of us forward to continue fighting for the causes he so willingly championed.  Maria and the kids will surely safeguard such inspiring legacy as Juanjo built it with them. Un abrazo fuerte y hasta siempre, amigo!


Henry Gonzalez

A smile and heart so big that everyone who had the pleasure to meet Juanjo instantly connected with him. A dedication and love so deep that it effortlessly extended from his family to his friends to the communities he worked with. His unwavering trust and belief in all made everything seem possible. Juanjo is and will forever remain a beacon of inspiration.


Shanoo Saran

In 2005 we had the pleasure to meet an intelligent, humble and extraordinarily well-rounded human being: Juan Jose Ochoa, Juanjo. Juanjo not only stood out from the rest of the class as one of our Skoll Scholars but also as a loving husband, good father and a true gentlemen. A man with a profound faith in god and in the people, who always looked for the bright side of everyone he met. Juanjo has been a light for all who met him. Now the challenge for us is to honor his name by living from his example.


Felipe Blanco

We lost an amazing man. Juanjo was a wonderful soul who cared deeply for those around him. Truly heartbreaking.


Michael McFadden

There was no other like Juanjo. A determined social entrepreneur on a mission, a kind friend with a listening year, a sportsman with a kindred spirit, a loving father and husband! I will always remember him fondly.


Ruchika Singhal
6 days ago
What is the Future of African FinTech?

In 2008, I completed an MBA as a Skoll Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. It was an amazing experience where I gained an expansive network and learned a lot about venture capital, technology and innovation. However, the application of these themes to Africa was completely absent from the MBA curriculum, mainly because it was also absent in practice. When I declared my intent to move to Africa immediately after my programme to connect socially-oriented investors with high-impact entrepreneurs who were building scalable tech-enabled companies, it was a novel idea. But it was also an idea that few people took seriously as a commercial enterprise.

When I arrived in Lusaka, Zambia in January 2009, I found a cash economy where over 80% of adults were unbanked. People were constrained to using post office branches or trusting cash envelopes to minibus drivers to move money around to pay for school fees, health emergencies and business stock. Unknown to almost everyone in Zambia, a mobile based person-to-person money transfer service, called M-Pesa, was emerging in Kenya. Entrepreneur brothers Brad and Brett Magrath saw the opportunity to be first to market and set out on a journey to replicate M-Pesa’s success in Zambia.

I helped the Magraths secure a $200,000 seed investment from the Grassroots Business Fund, which none of us knew at the time was one of the first institutional fintech investments in an African start-up. After convincing my parents in Canada to mortgage their house to lend me $100,000 to invest, I joined them and became a co-founder and CEO of Zoona. We continued our pioneering trend by raising a $4 million Series A at the beginning of 2012 and $15 million Series B in 2016 to fuel our growth. In Zoona’s first ten years, we enabled millions of consumers to transact over $2.5 billion across 2,500 micro-franchise agent outlets in Zambia and Malawi.

Africa’s fintech landscape has transformed since those early days of starting Zoona. In 2018, African fintech investments reached $357 million with ecosystems emerging in Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi. This growth has tracked Africa’s mobile money industry, which had 132 live mobile money deployments, serving 146 million active consumers and 1.4 million active agents in the same year. In Zambia, Zoona was disrupted by this competitive wave after two multinational telcos invested aggressively to roll out 47,000 agents. According to the UNCDF, over 45% of Zambia’s adult population actively uses digital financial services. Across the continent, the fintech landscape has segmented into payments, lending, savings and insurance. Applications have also broadened from financial services to agriculture (agtech), healthcare (healthtech), education (edtech) and even regulation (regtech).

While these statistics and trends are great, they also mask some significant unintended consequences. For example, easy access to unsecured digital credit has fueled an explosion in sports betting, with $2 billion gambled last year in Kenya with 500,000 young people defaulting on loans to fund their habit. In total, 2.2 million Kenyans have non-performing digital loans, with 49% of defaulters having outstanding balances of less than $10. 62% of borrowers also report having more than one digital loan. These are worrying statistics for the industry and warning signs of speed bumps ahead.

So what is the future of fintech in Africa? I will offer three predictions.

First, fintech itself is not a silver bullet. It is the application of it that matters. Fintech solutions that are embedded in the real economy and help increase people’s incomes and reduce their costs will have tremendous positive impact. Those that drain people’s limited resources and promise short term investor returns will have long lasting negative consequences.

Second, the current investor hype in African fintech will wane as the industry matures, but the good investors will stick it out. Too much of the money flowing in is chasing the hype, and not enough people have been burned by the very real challenges of scaling companies in Africa. But the investors who have been around the longest, like Zoona’s Series A investors Flourish Ventures (a spin off from Omidyar Network) and Quona Capital (a spin off from Accion), are well positioned to ride the wave.

Third, the potential of fintech to deliver both positive impact and financial returns is very real. The opportunities in Africa are enormous for thick-skinned entrepreneurs who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and execute well. As I learned my first time around, there is no guarantee of winning in the end but that is all the more reason to try again. It’s a great time to be a fintech entrepreneur in Africa. 

About the author

Mike Quinn, 2007-08 Oxford MBA alumnus and Skoll Scholar. Mike is the co-founder and former Group CEO of Zoona, one of Africa’s earliest fintech companies.  

During his 10-year stint at the company that started with the first transaction in 2009, Zoona processed $2.5 billion of transactions, generated $26 million in income for 3,000 micro-entrepreneurs and their employees across Zambia and Malawi, and raised $35 million in investment. For his leadership, Mike was awarded the Accion 2017 Edward W. Claugus Award for Leadership and Innovation in Financial Inclusion and with one of the Schwab Foundation’s 2018 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Mike’s entrepreneurial journey in Africa started as a volunteer in Ghana and Zambia with Engineers Without Borders Canada after graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of British Columbia. He has completed an LSE Master’s in Development Management, an Oxford MBA, and a Harvard Leadership for Systems Change executive education certificate. He grew up in Calgary, Canada and now calls Cape Town, home.

on 6th November
My journey from Costa Rica to Oxford

Joaquín Víquez is a 2019-20 Oxford MBA and Skoll Scholar. He began his social impact career in his native country, Costa Rica, where his passion for environmental sustainability led him to many projects and ventures. Now Joaquin finds himself among 300+ other global MBA candidates in one of the world’s oldest institutions, the University of Oxford.

It might sound strange, but I truly enjoy the smell of coffee berries. Most coffee drinkers don’t even know what that is because coffee travels around the world as a bean and not the actual berry. The coffee berry is processed the same day it’s harvested, and in just a few days the coffee bean is ready for shipping. I know this because I grew up in a family dedicated to small scale coffee farming and livestock. By the way, I also enjoy the smell of horses and cacao fermentation.


Joaquín Víquez

Growing up around agriculture provided me with a sense of what it means to ‘live off the land’ so to speak, the hardships and of course, the rewards. It helped me develop a sense of empathy towards an industry that feeds the world. It also caused me to develop questions, I didn’t realize then, that was going to become an essential part of my career. For example, what happens to the coffee skin/peel after the bean is extracted? What do they do with such “waste”?

Joaquin with large biogas machinary in a trench in the ground

Naturally, this upbringing influenced me to undertake a degree in agriculture science, which I did in Costa Rica at EARTH University. During my time at school, I started specializing on biogas technology. Biogas converts, through a biochemical process, organic waste into fertilizer and methane, which can be used as energy. In other words, a farm just like the one I grew up on, could convert the cow dung into energy for cooking. 

Back then, if I had to describe my “dream job” stepping right out of college, it would’ve been a 95% match to my actual first job. I ended up leading a team who advised dairy farmers how to properly manage their in-farm waste (mainly cow dung). At that time, regulations were urging the largest dairy cooperative in Costa Rica to align its farmers to produce environmentally friendly. I continue to advocate the use of biogas among these dairy farms. Having learnt there wasn’t an actual product in the market for small scale biogas farmers, I decided to quit this job and start a social venture to make biogas an accessible technology among farmers.

Entrepreneurs always describe how difficult but worthwhile is to run your own business; I can’t but agree! The company (Viogaz) officially operated for six years. We became a renown biogas company with the greatest number of biogas projects in Costa Rica. During this time, we were recognised and awarded for the work we were doing, plus creating tangible impact in the region. Unfortunately, a combined set of unexpected events fell upon the company, which obliged me to shut down the project at the end of 2017.

Joaquin giving a talk to a small crowd standing on top of biogas machinary.

I learned that doing business while having an environmental priority is possible and highly gratifying. So, just as I decided to do an MSc to strengthen my technical knowledge, I started considering doing an MBA to strengthen my business knowledge. Coincidentally, I received a newsletter announcing the Skoll Scholarship to study at Saïd Business School on a renown MBA program with a strong focus on responsible and social business, at the University of Oxford. This scholarship sought to support entrepreneurs doing good through business. I thought to myself: “that’s what I have been doing for all my career” … I decided to apply.

Fast forward, 12 months later, I find myself at a 400-year-old pub in the heart of Oxford writing this blog. I couldn’t be more excited, thrilled, and inspired to be here. I am very much looking forward to the future. And although my future is not set in stone, I plan to continue to explore new business ideas in areas of waste-to-resource and climate change, as well open to also join an organization tackling these problems.

…And by the way, going back to my child questions, coffee peel/skin is still disposed of inadequately, causing tremendous environmental impact, meaning there is still lots of work to do.

on 23rd October

About this group

Dear all,

In early October this page will be migrated to the new Oxford Business Alumni website’s Groups section, and this group will merge with the "Oxford Business Network for Social Impact". This is to ensure better integration with the OBA Directory, reduced number of login details for members to keep track of, and a simpler way for students and alumni to interact with each other.

Therefore, please do not request membership to this page, but rather register for the new OBA website (https://www.alumniweb.ox.ac.uk/obasecure/page.aspx?pid=1820) if you have not already done so since July 2012. Once your registration is processed, you may join an Oxford Business Network as well as Chapters and events with the same login details. Please note, in early October we will be sending all 2012-2013 degree programme students their alumni number to register. Any other alumni requiring their Alumni Number for registration please email us at alumni@sbs.ox.ac.uk.

We will update you once the new page is available. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you on the new OBA website!

Best regards,

Alumni Relations Office

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is impact investing?
How do you measure social and financial returns?
Can you pursue social and financial returns simultaneously?

Welcome to the Social Finance Oxford Business Network!
Led by current MBA students at the Saïd Business School, we exist to consider these and other questions surrounding the emerging field of impact investing. Our goal is active collaboration between Oxford students, alumni and others with interest in Social Finance and Impact Investing.

We are committed to bridging the gap between finance and social enterprise by: - Deepening our knowledge of social finance and impact investing developments - Building networks & relationships in the industry - Pursuing career opportunities

  Contact the manager of this GroupSpaces group
Category: Other
Networks: Oxford University, Saïd Business School

News & Announcements

Oxford Business Network pages are changing!

Posted by Ladd Thurston, Monday, 1st October 2012 @ 1:32pm

  • Dear all,

    In early October this page will be migrated to the new Oxford Business Alumni website’s Groups section, and this group will merge with the "Oxford Business Network for Social Impact". This is to ensure better integration with the OBA Directory, reduced number of login details for members to keep track of, and a simpler way for students and alumni to interact with each other.

    Therefore, please do not request membership to this page, but rather register for the new OBA website (https://www.alumniweb.ox.ac.uk/obasecure/page.aspx?pid=1820) if you have not already done so since July 2012. Once your registration is processed, you may join an Oxford Business Network as well as Chapters and events with the same login details. Please note, in early October we will be sending all 2012-2013 degree programme students their alumni number to register. Any other alumni requiring their Alumni Number for registration please email us at alumni@sbs.ox.ac.uk.

    We will update you once the new page is available. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you on the new OBA website!

    Best regards,

    Alumni Relations Office

    Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Impact Generation March Happy Hour: Marmanie Consulting

  • Wednesday, 14th March 2012 at 7:30pm
    Location: The exchange, london bridge

    Sign up…

SVCIC Debrief: Feedback and Insights

  • Friday, 24th February 2012 at 5:30pm - 6:30pm
    Location: TBA

    Want to gain insights into what it takes to succeed in sustainable venture capital? 

    • 1 person attended

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